From the Executive Director
Empty-nesting – an opportunity to reimagine and rediscover

When each month the day comes to write my article to you in the Parent Perspectives newsletter, I wonder what I can share that will impact your life in a positive way. You’ll find that most of my articles convey my ideas about life, love, learning and legacy, and that I share a lot from my personal life journey.

Just a week or so ago, we held the Selah conference for women at George Fox University. The purpose of the conference this year was to contemplate the role of change in our lives and attempt to answer the question "How can change be a catalyst for reimagining and rediscovering God’s plan for my life?" This is so fresh in my mind that I started thinking about the radical changes and opportunities that come into our lives as a result of the empty-nesting process.

When our children go off to college or out of our homes, one by one, we find ourselves to be in the empty-nesting phase of life. Empty nesting is a process that takes a few years because typically our children go, and come back, go, and come back over and over again. In the best-case scenario, during this timeframe we learn how to be independent from each other and negotiate a new kind of relationship built on mutual respect and the ability to learn from each other. Of course (also in the best-case scenario), this process is lavishly sprinkled with patience and peace!

Sometimes we get so focused on our children during this process that we forget that the empty-nesting stage can be a catalyst in our own lives to reimagine our futures. In my life, becoming an official empty nester (all children married and out of our home – a process that took nine years) was somewhat sad, but it has been much more exciting than difficult. As I look back on it, this process – almost like a birthing – has a great result! Some things I love about it include:

  • More time has opened up to pick up some old passions. I have entered a graduate program and my husband has taken up building stained glass windows again
  • Renewed focus on using our gifts and passions in our careers and ministry
  • Reinvigorated marriage and enjoying being alone again after 26 years
  • Friendships that took a back seat because of busy family life are prioritized again

As my husband and I have had opportunity to fill the new spaces in our lives rediscovering our unique callings and seeking God’s will for direction, we are busy moving on in constructive and exciting directions. Of course, our family always has highest priority (especially the grandchildren), but we work hard at calendaring times to enjoy together because all of us are so busy!

I hope this encourages you to look at a time of big change as a gateway for good things. I believe our children enjoy watching us on our journeys as much as we enjoy watching them on theirs.

Happy journeying!
Sheri Philips
Executive Director of University Relations